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Tragedy of 'terrifying' Whistler track

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Lizzie Greenwood-Hughes | 21:46 UK time, Sunday, 14 February 2010

Now that two days have passed since Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili's death, I finally feel I can blog about the whole tragic experience.

Some TV networks out here are still showing the incident. I can't imagine why anyone would want to see it and I wish they'd stop. It's something I never want to have to witness again.

At the time of the accident I'd been making a feature for BBC Sport on the sliding track - about how fast and difficult it was - so I'd already been talking at length to sliders and watching the lugers training.

Without exception, every athlete and coach told me it was the most difficult, fastest track they'd ever seen. Many of them, including the world number one Canadian skeleton slider Melissa Hollingsworth, went as far as calling it "dangerous".

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But this is the Olympics and, as well as being a bit worried about the track, most of the athletes were relishing the challenge. Melissa actually attributed part of her recent success to the fact she'd had so many crashes on the track. She told me it had made her as good as she is.

Well, Melissa is one of the lucky ones who has had plenty of access to the track. The Canadians have been busy training on it since it opened last season. The rest of the world has had to make do with one World Cup event, a week's training and their three days of pre-event runs at the Olympics.

As part of my feature I'd filmed a series of pieces to camera up at the Whistler Sliding Centre. The area is known to be home to bears and we'd all seen Canadian TV pictures of a bear almost climbing onto the ice last year, so I'd mentioned something along the lines of "the athletes don't need to be afraid of the wild animals roaming around the area - this track is all they need to worry about."

Those words clearly seem crass now. But again, the track's extreme level of difficulty was in everyone's minds long before the tragedy.

The organisers had changed it before the Games to make it safer. One corner in particular - corner 13, nicknamed "50-50" due to the odds of crashing there - had been altered. It was where Britain's sole luger here, AJ Rosen, dislocated his hip last September, wrecking his season.

But nothing had slowed the record speeds lugers were clocking up. The vertical drop and gradient of the track meant they were almost hitting 100mph. The BBC's commentator here, Colin Bryce, told me: "Those speeds make corners that would be fine on any other track absolutely terrifying here."

I spoke to a senior member of the organising team for the sliding events the day before Kumaritashvili died and asked, "Is it safe?"

"Yes," was his categoric reply. I also asked, "Has anyone ever fallen out of a track, because there doesn't seem much to keep them in here?"

Again, I was told this would never happen. "Gravity would stop anyone ever leaving the track." How wrong we all were.

Safety improvements were made to the track after Kumaritashvili's death
Safety improvements were made to the track after Kumaritashvili's death

Of course it's not for me to comment on whether all of the above contributed to the death of Kumaritashvili. That's down to the International Luge Federation, Vanoc and the police. Their investigation has concluded it was the athlete's fault.

The President of Georgia has subsequently disputed that conclusion, saying "no sports mistake should result in death." I'm inclined to agree with him.

It always feels harsh when someone has died and is then blamed for their own death. It's like when a plane or helicopter comes down and the coroner says "pilot error". Clearly the reason for a death needs to be established but I wish they could find some other way of describing it.

Having looked at the ice where Kumaritashvili crashed you can see his line was far too high coming out of the final corner - about three feet too high. But I've just read it was actually the fourth time he'd come off his sled at that point.

Now the ice has been cut back to soften the final corner. Boarding has been put up where he left the track and the men are now starting from the womens' start (although that has only cut their speeds by between five and 10mph).

Meanwhile, the whole of Georgia is in mourning. They plan to build a new luge track in the country to replace the one destroyed by war. It will be named after Kumaritashvili.

It's been said this will probably be the last of the big, fast sliding tracks to be built for an Olympics. Maybe we've reached the limit of human possibilities on a sled and ice. All we can do is just pray a tragedy like this will never happen again.

Comments

  • 1. At 11:17pm on 14 Feb 2010, BULUDU wrote:

    Surley the bit built to stop them coming off should have been built before, even saying that it looks like a £50 jobby from b&q

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  • 2. At 11:27pm on 14 Feb 2010, nlygo wrote:

    this track seems to have been a fatal accident waiting to happen and it is shameful that the ILF and the police have blamed the athlete - talk about being myopic!

    if the track is safe, leave it unaltered - or accept some responsibility

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  • 3. At 11:33pm on 14 Feb 2010, Strat wrote:

    Hi there, Lizzie. How many practice runs did the competitors get at Salt Lake? Turin? Yes, that's right, the same as in Vancouver. Please leave Ron Rossi's propaganda to Ron Rossi.

    "Of course it's not for me to comment on whether all of the above contributed to the death of Kumaritashvili."
    - Isn't that why you've written this opinion piece? If not, my sarcasm meter is broken or I've missed the point entirely.

    You were told the theoretical truth: it should not be possible for anyone to leave the track. That it happened points to improper safety testing or changing conditions. Neither matter to Nodar at this point but, if looked at fairly, will result in a safer sport.

    "All we can do is just pray a tragedy like this will never happen again."
    - Nonsense. There are no engineering accidents, only mistakes.

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  • 4. At 11:46pm on 14 Feb 2010, saintformulaone wrote:

    Strat, you're wrong. You clearly do miss the point of this article.

    As quoted in this article, 'no sports mistake should result in death'. I'm inclined to agree with this so far as is reasonable. The fact that there are open concrete pillars lining the track is always going to present a danger. Trying to blame the mistake is akin to saying sportsmen deserve injury or worse for their mistakes.

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  • 5. At 01:06am on 15 Feb 2010, R Brandenburb wrote:

    Let's stop perpetuating the myth that Canada shortchanged foreign athletes when it came time to training on the track. In sharp contrast to the Turin Olympics, where Canadians and other foreign athletes were only allowed 15 test runs, Olympians from other countries had access to 40 test runs at Whystler, as determined by the IOC, not Canada. The young Georgian, who ranked 40th in the world, only went down 26 times; he was invited to come back in January but declined. God bless his soul, but he was also considered far too inexperienced. The track was designed by an expert who created 6 other Olympian courses and was approved by all governing bodies, most notably the IOC.

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  • 6. At 01:29am on 15 Feb 2010, sportmadgav wrote:

    There are many, many dangerous sports in the world today, the sportsmen and women who decide to dedicate their time to practising these sports are well aware of the dangers. Surely that is part of the appeal.

    If we look at Formula One motor racing or motorbikes, safety measures have been introduced over a 50 year period and there are still deaths. There's no getting away from it, 100mph on a flimsy piece of carbon fibre with only a helmet for protection, come on people, it's a surprise more haven't died.

    I congratulate the designers of the runs to have limited the damage so far, obviously they need to review the designs to harness higher speeds but we will always want to go faster, higher, longer, deeper etc. that's what makes humans special.

    Sad case, but predictable.

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  • 7. At 01:57am on 15 Feb 2010, Iceslider wrote:

    Careful not to miss the point.
    As a past skeleton rider, there are fast tracks & slow tracks, dangerous tracks & terrifying tracks. It's part of the sport.
    As far as I'm concerned the issue is one of safety. There will always be falls. That's part of the technical aspects of these ice sliding sports. if you fall badly, you may hurt yourself.
    However, there should never be a fall area where there is a serious likely hood of being killed. Those metal posts should not have been there, or put another way, safety netting, or plexiglass (or whatever) to prevent any chance of impact should have been installed.
    With the right safety precautions in place, the track itself is a valid venue. Unfortunately, the safety aspects may have been severely lacking.

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  • 8. At 03:06am on 15 Feb 2010, James wrote:

    As an athlete and someone who has been to this track I can say that the athlete was responsible for his position in the track. HOWEVER it should not be possible to leave the track. It is a dsesign fault which was not foreseen. It was not foreseen because the track has been cut for the games to make it faster and crucially different from how it has been in training to give advantage to Canadian athletes. Own the podium should receive a large portion of the blame....
    In addition the gripes about training time are not to do with volume of training, if EVERYONE gets 10 runs before the race that is fine. We have a situation where the Canadians have 600+ runs and the rest of the world has 40 at absolute maximum. This degrades the validity of the sport as a whole as knowledge of a track is 80% of your performance.

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  • 9. At 03:33am on 15 Feb 2010, Kunzvi wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 10. At 04:15am on 15 Feb 2010, the swashbuckler wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 11. At 04:22am on 15 Feb 2010, the swashbuckler wrote:

    Own the Podium is a nonsense argument only being obsessively discussed by the BBC for some inexplicable reason. Canada aren't even contenders in Luge. And how does Canada having extra practice runs make it less safe for others? All competitors still have all the runs they need leading up to the event, certainly within the established standards for the sport. Stop commenting on things you don't understand.

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  • 12. At 04:45am on 15 Feb 2010, k_alan wrote:

    If Lizzie cared about accuracy, she would dig a little deeper into the practice time issue. Other nations' luge athletes were invited to use the track for additional practice starting January 1. No nations took advantage of the offer. The limit of 40 claimed by "George" is similarly erroneous. It is the norm that the home country's teams - in any sport - will have more accessibility to venues in their own country than athletes from other countries. Now that the track starting points have been changed for the competition, much of the prior training is of reduced value to everyone. Indeed, the runs may be more dangerous now than before, since everyone's timing regarding the turns may be off. At 140 km/hr even a split second of poor reaction time can result in a spill.
    As for tgtaxi, your comment is tasteless at best - the track was audited by the international luge federation which is now dancing around trying to pretend nothing was wrong with the track but making changes anyway.

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  • 13. At 05:07am on 15 Feb 2010, Paul wrote:

    Just a couple of quick comments.

    1. The amount of time the Canadians have allowed other countries to practice has been the same as for prior Olympics. The only difference is that because they completed the construction earlier (than past Olympics) the Canadians have had more practice time.

    2. While it is indeed a tragedy the Luger was killed, the notion being put forward that no athlete should be killed participating in sports - especially extreme, high level sports is ludicrous. Horse riders are often killed and/or severely injured as are race car drivers. Marathon runners have died. Downhill skiers have died.

    The point is that the better athletes get the more difficult they expect the event to be. Formula 1 had to face up to, well, making the tracks slower or the cars slower in order to rein in this need for bigger, better, faster. The Luge may have to do the same. But I am not going to pass judgement on the current track builders in retrospect.

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  • 14. At 05:46am on 15 Feb 2010, loop wrote:

    Having seen the footage of the incident on ABC, I can only be shocked at the poor design of the track. Nodar may have been carrying a high line into the final corner, but the width of the exit from this corner was far too narrow, meaning as he came down his sled clipped the wall at high speed, flipping it over and throwing him from the track. This is not to mention the unguarded steel girders, prominent, with no safey guard in front of them.

    It is easy to be wise after the event, but it is almost an admission of guilt from the track designers that this final corner was subsequently widened, with the ice cut back, and safety panelling put up to prevent any other lugers going over the edge. It was a clear and simple design and safety error that should have been acknowledged by those responsible - it is easy to blame a dead athlete who cannot answer back.

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  • 15. At 06:16am on 15 Feb 2010, takeapause wrote:

    I just wanted to say a couple of things.

    1) All sports are dangerous!!!! Whether it is NASCAR, F1, or even hiking you can die doing sports. I know someone from my town that die while hiking when he slipped and fell off a cliff. But any sport that involves high speed is extremely dangerous! Don't forget sports like skydiving, Redbull air race, and boat racing hundreds of people have died doing those too. Sports are dangerous and if someone dies in one of the fastest and crazy sports. Someone is going to pay the price eventually.

    2) I am sorry that the poor guy got blamed for the accident but that is a fact of life. If a F1 driver flinches in a tight turn and crashes and gets killed it is his fault not the tracks fault. Sorry.

    3) What is the problem with own the podium? every country has programs like this! You can't tell me that the UK and Russia don't also have programs like this.

    I am sorry about the poor mans death. I always hope that all sporting events finnish without any injures or deaths but they are a part of sports.

    Cheers

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  • 16. At 06:18am on 15 Feb 2010, Brian J wrote:

    As a Brit now living in Canada and who follows and appreciates all that BBC journalists do, I find this article amongst the worst that I've ever read from a BBC professional. It is stating the obvious that nobody wants to see an athlete or sports-person die.

    But the facts are seriously under-researched: Canada allowed foreign teams the same amount of track time for these Olympics as in past Games. The track, being completed well ahead of the Games, also allowed for athletes to run on the track in other competitions. In lieu of facts, this coverage is full of opinion.

    I was at both days of the mens luge (and I'm going to guess Lizzie wasn't). It was great racing; the race organisers, volunteers and athletes were fantastic. They and the enthusiastic crowd are to be congratulated on making this event World class and a fitting tribute to Nodar.

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  • 17. At 06:24am on 15 Feb 2010, zontarina wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 18. At 07:03am on 15 Feb 2010, Targaff wrote:

    Essiential, I'm not sure how many news outlets you're exposed to but "Own The Podium" has come up time and time again in the US coverage, and a cursory look at most Canadian news outlets shows that it crops up time and again there as well. It's not really that surprising that there's a high level of interest in what a $110 million investment gets you.

    Lizzie's first point is bang on: I want out to watch the opening ceremony, only to see the accident repeated time and again in slow motion in the preview show. NBC's announced at the top of their Saturday shows that they wouldn't show it again, but they should never have had to make that announcement in the first place, especially since they then had the gall to show footage of the grieving father saying he hadn't seen it and didn't want to.

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  • 19. At 07:23am on 15 Feb 2010, Andy McCoog wrote:

    In my opinion the designer of this course should face prosecution. The accident was forseen by experienced competitors and other professionals. The fact that they have changed the course in de facto an admission that there was something wrong with it in the first place.
    Competitors in this sport are adreniline junkies and like competitors in motor sport they need protection from their own bravery as much as anything else. The organisers have let this young man down dreadfully and I hope that they are eventually called to book for what they did to him

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  • 20. At 08:09am on 15 Feb 2010, Riggadon wrote:

    I've been following this story closely for the last day or two. I cant get it out of my head. I have a massive problem with the Canadians blaming the athlete for his own death. Surely the fact that they have now raised boarding in the area of the crash means that they know there is or was a problem with that area. Surely their actions speak a lot louder than their words? If, as they say, the athlete was reponsible for his own death and that safety was'nt a problem, then there would be no need to make any changes? It stinks of hypocrisy, the kind I usually expect from politicians in this country.

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  • 21. At 09:00am on 15 Feb 2010, collie21 wrote:

    There is zero sense in defending the indefensible. The track is dangerous the sport is dangerous. 40th in the world is not inexperienced or a novice. Can you all drop your silly pride and have some respect. If the guy made an error he did so because he is human. The fact that the track is clearly not made for this error is an oversight. So there is plenty of blame and fault. The stance now should not be to defend but to accept and to take steps to ensure that no else dies in the pursuit of entertainment and fake glory. I am imagining if the sport was invented today, it would be copyright of Jackass and Johnyknoxville and be nowhere near the olympics.

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  • 22. At 10:59am on 15 Feb 2010, flyinghurdler2 wrote:

    An error should not lead to a rider leaving the track

    If the bend had been dressed properly he would not have done so and would not have struck pillars outside.

    This was criminal negligence and should be viewed as so.

    It was avoidable and death occurred because the rider was not adequately protected, that is the main point.

    If the protection was not the issue then the Organisers would not have hastily constructed extra protection that should have been there in the first place.

    Accidents do happen and death can occur but this was not a freak accident, it was avoidable.

    He was let down

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  • 23. At 11:32am on 15 Feb 2010, speedfreek wrote:

    "Now that two days have passed since Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili's death, I finally feel I can blog about the whole tragic experience."

    Two days !!??!!

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  • 24. At 11:40am on 15 Feb 2010, Tiger Rose wrote:

    I have found the comments blaming the Luger for his death quite distasteful.

    I am no expert on Luge so won't comment on their accuracy but even if there is some truth, speaking so openly & bluntly about it seems very cold to me and must be deeply upsetting for his family.

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  • 25. At 12:00pm on 15 Feb 2010, Kunzvi wrote:

    # 9. At 03:33am on 15 Feb 2010, you wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

    Geez are we back in Orwell's 1984 or something? I just said the Canadians have been favoured by having more than 600 runs on the track yet they didnt win anything, funny innit and that the luger didnt deserve to die. Did I have to get 3 emails to say my comment had been removed? Give me a break.

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  • 26. At 12:34pm on 15 Feb 2010, Jst19sckersdreamlcfc wrote:

    The guy came to Canada hoping to compete in a sport of sliding on your back on a piece of plastic at 100mph down a steep winding track of frozen ice.

    Give him some respect, he didn't choose to take up golf, he chose luge.

    Base jumping has 1/100 chance of death, but many still do it. No fear, no adrenaline, no fun.

    Sometimes you just have to accept that bad things happen, luge, base jumping, football, whatever. If there didn't, what would be the point in living.

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  • 27. At 1:55pm on 15 Feb 2010, KomlaNokwe wrote:

    "Sometimes you just have to accept that bad things happen, luge, base jumping, football, whatever. If there didn't, what would be the point in living."

    There is every point in living - and therefore every point in preventing unnecessary death. You can mess with your own life if it turns you on, but "Do not do anything that endangers your neighbour's life" (Leviticus 19:16).

    Some sports are more dangerous than others. But the people facing the dangers are the experts, and when they say the track is too dangerous (as Ayrton Senna did), it is time for the organisers to listen.

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  • 28. At 2:21pm on 15 Feb 2010, flyinghurdler2 wrote:

    To 26

    If you wanna jump out a plane you are responsible for your equipment.

    If there was glass on the field in a football match would they players get the blame? NO!

    If a Skiier hits a tree because he goes through a layer of fencing that was not anchored properly is it his own fault? NO!

    If the luge track is too dangerous and safety measures are not implemented it is NOT the lugers fault. He died because he was not protected enough.

    How they can come to a conclusion of fault after 2 days is laughable, the bigwigs are doing nothing but protect themselves in this situation.

    Criminal

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  • 29. At 2:30pm on 15 Feb 2010, Nick wrote:

    5. At 01:06am on 15 Feb 2010, R Brandenburb wrote:

    "The young Georgian, who ranked 40th in the world, only went down 26 times; he was invited to come back in January but declined. God bless his soul, but he was also considered far too inexperienced. The track was designed by an expert who created 6 other Olympian courses and was approved by all governing bodies, most notably the IOC."
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    This just proves that the track and course were completely wrong for the Olympics. If you are saying someone 40th in the world is too inexperienced then it should not have been built.

    As I am not into the Luge event I can not say why he didn't go back and have more practises. But with other winter sports January is a very busy time of world cup events so to miss one or two competitions would not be right.

    As others have said. With the course being changed so quickly and redesigned in some corners it just goes to prove that it should have been designed more carefully with the athletes and safety more of a concern instead of a TV picture. Of course people will say human error but lets face it everything can be put down to that.

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  • 30. At 3:02pm on 15 Feb 2010, Jst19sckersdreamlcfc wrote:

    28

    The track was passed as safe. Then even after the incident, the track was again assessed and confirmed not at fault.

    If I jump out a plane, and pull my cord wrong or tangle my shoot, I might die. This luger partook in a dangerous sport, did it wrong, and unfortunately lost his life.

    Shtuff happens.

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  • 31. At 3:44pm on 15 Feb 2010, flyinghurdler2 wrote:

    30 - The track was passed as safe. Then even after the incident, the track was again assessed and confirmed not at fault.

    Shtuff Happens

    -------------------------------

    Shtuff happens? Wow, that's a little blase even if you think it was an accident.

    But it clearly wasn't safe as the luger exited the track and hit a metal post.

    A freak accident is one that cannot be avoided, that's why it's freak.
    This accident could have been avoided with decent safety measures in place, therefore it was not a freak unavoidable accident.

    Your sky-diving analogy is wildly innacurate and not representative of what happened in Whistler. If the company you skydive with had sent you up in a replacement plane which had a hidden hook under the door for example and you caught your pack on it as you jumped that is not the jumper fault.

    This accident didn't occur simply due to the inherent danger of the sport, it happened because of the inadequate safety measures in place!

    The fact that the run was passed as safe doesn't mean it was so..... it means that they did not do their job properly. That is negligence. They wanted the fastest most dangerous run ever built and that is what they got.

    When the sliding community comments on the danger of a track and a specific turn in particularly, that should not be ignored

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  • 32. At 9:46pm on 15 Feb 2010, magnificentpolarbear wrote:

    The track as built to International Luge Federation specifications - they set the track specs not the IOC or VANOC.

    They would have approved the design of the track - including the safety aspects.

    A bit rich for them to abrogate responsibilty and put it onto VANOC which is what thety appear to have done.

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  • 33. At 10:51pm on 15 Feb 2010, halfwheeler wrote:

    In sliding sports - it is possible to fly off the end of a bend at any angle and any speed. It is impossible to legislate for this and still have the track viewable by spectators. If you want a track where the athletes are safely hemmed into the track then you must cover it like the water slide at the swimming baths.

    The media-driven frenzy of finger-pointing, faux outrage and blatant political point-scoring that has ensued from this tragic incident is absolutely disgusting. All responsible - including the author of this blog make me sick.

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  • 34. At 11:22pm on 15 Feb 2010, flyinghurdler2 wrote:

    33 - If someone is responsible and the accident could have been avoided then blame must be proportioned and action needs to be taken to ensure it doesn't happen again.

    This seems to be the general consensus of those in the sliding community and the author of this blog who was there and witnessed the accident... unlike you.

    There may be finger pointing etc which is not a good thing but that doesn't make me nearly as sick as letting the death of this young athlete go without it raising legitimate questions of future safety and what could or should have been done to reduce this kind of thing from happening

    You said..."In sliding sports - it is possible to fly off the end of a bend at any angle and any speed"

    However, track officals (I forget who exactly) were quoted as saying that athletes "could not leave the track as it has been desifgned so that gravity would keep them in" - this was a fatal assumption, had this assumption not been made maybe they would have looked at the dressing of the temporary iron girders better. They certainly did afterwards!

    You have no right to ignorantly brush aside anybodies anger over the incident as "Faux Outrage", go and say that to the faces of his fellow athletes.

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  • 35. At 01:44am on 16 Feb 2010, Tony343 wrote:

    It's very sad that an athlete going for his olympic dream should die as a result of his sport. But I am not impressed at all with the track and feel that the design was not properly thought through and is a complete disgrace to the sport.
    Having watched the men's luge which had the start shortened to the women's and now watching the women's luge which, to be frank, is a now a joke due to another reduction in length to the junior start, I find it a complete disaster for the sport.
    Very bad show by Vancouver for their Whistler track, and the 'organising team' that said the track was safe should be held responsible for the death of Nodar.
    My heart goes out to the family of Nodar Kumaritashvili and hope that lessons are learnt here before new tracks are built.
    With the skeleton and bobsleigh to come, there is no doubt that competitors will feel they have been denied the chance to show the true potential of their skill and courage of braving these speed events at the olympics.

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  • 36. At 01:49am on 16 Feb 2010, tash wrote:

    I was fortunate enough to see the luge both saturday an sunday this weekend, you can see where he came off and how is was his fault - I dont like to use this term but when your sending yourself down a track of ice on a sledge I can only say somewhat that you know what your getting into its not like playing the sport of football. I am sad this happened and Vanoc have put all the appropriate safety measurements in place. I was a little curious why they havn't put padding all the way up the steel poles?!?! Am from being here in 08/09 season this track was used so much and yes accidents occured but itd not like it has just been built and opened for the Olypmics I hope only good of the people and reputation of the sliding center from here on. I have to say watching Luge was amazing and walking around the track seeing how awesome a build it is made for a greta weekend!

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  • 37. At 12:04pm on 16 Feb 2010, flyinghurdler2 wrote:

    The track itself is barely the issue here.

    It was the lack of safety measures outside of the track that contributed to his death.

    Talking about how people have completed the track millions of times before with no accidents is not really the point as it only takes one bad move to have an accident. A mistake in which a slider leaves the track is always possible but he should have the best possible chance of survival if correct safety measures are taken. In this case he struck support structures as soon as he left the ice.. at 90mph. This was a lack of basic safety consideration.

    That should never have happened.

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  • 38. At 7:09pm on 16 Feb 2010, halfwheeler wrote:

    #34

    Flying hurdler - I here what you're saying with your 'unnamed official' and it sounds like yet more gossip and heresay selling column inches with the death of an athlete.

    Canada is a developed country with modern laws. There will no doubt be an inquest which will fully explain any and all the factors that led to this young mans death and may have legal consequences if any blame is aportioned. The tittle-tattle and trial-by-blogging is unnecessary and sickening.

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  • 39. At 08:05am on 17 Feb 2010, flyinghurdler2 wrote:

    Well if the BBC are into pushing gossip and hearsay then I'd be disappointed, the BBC is where this statement came from, so I hope that sensationalism is not the case. However, this statement was actually made before the accident and was a quote taken in response to the sliding community raising concerns over the high technicality coupled with the sheer speed of the track.

    What is truly sickening Halfwheeler is that within 48 hours the Athlete and "his lack of ability" was officially blamed for his death despite a vast amount of people pointing out the track issues. If there really was to be a full and exhaustive inquest then why did the authorities take this step so quickly??

    I think the track designer and the body which sactioned the track should be considered possibly at fault in their design and passing of a "dangerous" section of the run which had, in the event of a crash, the possibility of having a slider suffer instantaneous deceleration from 144+ KPH to 0 KPH. I can think of no other sport that would say that not providing adequate safety protection was the fault of the athlete in question. Crazy

    This isn't trial by blog, it's discussion and it's a legitimate place for people to air their opinions.

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  • 40. At 7:21pm on 17 Feb 2010, halfwheeler wrote:

    1. Of course the BBC peddle gossip and heresay.

    2. The authorities took immediate steps because they were being annihilated in the media by vultures hungry for a story. Of course there will be an inquest - specialist lawyers will be readying their portfolios as we speak. Where there's blame there's a claim.

    3. You may be right - the inquest will say for sure.

    4. I looked at this blog to see if there was some more background on the athlete, his history and aspirations - instead I got a bunch of armchair engineers using his death as a stick to hit out with.

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  • 41. At 00:53am on 23 Feb 2010, Tony343 wrote:

    QUOTE "I looked at this blog to see if there was some more background on the athlete, his history and aspirations - instead I got a bunch of armchair engineers using his death as a stick to hit out with." END QUOTE

    Hardly a stick to hit out with!

    An athlete dies. Ok, maybe his fault - but there should have been protective padding on the pillar. And he wouldn't have been there if he wasn't competant enough to compete with the best. Olympic qualifying and such.

    Then, the men's luge is reduced to the women's start and the women's reduced to the junior start. Why? If it was Nodar's fault then why change the length of the track?

    And now with ther two man Bob'... how many overturned on corner 13? (I believe) even the canadians managed to do it!

    The track is too fast for the short straights between corners and the athletes can't correct errors in their line in time.
    Nobody has a perfect run - good runs yes - but not perfect, and that should be shown in the times of the runs, not by the track spitting you out.

    But, as you say, the inquest will show for sure.


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